The reason I ask the question in the title to this post is that I’ve seen two articles in the last few days that refer to situations where the author was supposedly called to panic by the use of Night Panel (or Black Panel as it’s referred to in one article).
The first one is on TTAC, by demon driver, Jack Baruth:
This was also the era of the ridiculous “Born From Jets” advertising. To provide that advertising with the barest connection to reality, Saab equipped the 9-3 with the “Black Panel”. The Black Panel was an enormous button that, when pressed at night, cut the illumination to every gauge except the speedometer. The idea was that only critical information would be communicated to the pilot, I mean, driver. If one of the gauges reached a “critical area”, it would light up. Supposedly this was the way LearJets worked. The way it worked in practice:
- Explain “Black Panel” to passenger;
- Press Black Panel button;
- Observe the non-impressed countenance of passenger;
- Drive for a while in Black Panel;
- Shriek like little girl when the fuel gauge falls below a quarter-tank and lights up out of nowhere in CRITICAL MODE;
- Never press Black Panel button again.
And the second one comes from none other than Jeremy Clarkson himself, writing about the Saab 9-3 TTiD in the Sunday Times last weekend:
Oh, Saab is still banging on about the aircraft connection. It fits a button that turns off all the dashboard lights at night, so you can feel like a night fighter pilot. But you don’t really. You just feel as if you might be running out of petrol.
My thanks to Dave R for the transcript of that one.
Returning to the point, however…… Have any of you ever felt this worried with Night Panel on? Are people that unaware of their fuel situation before taking off on a trip where Night Panel might come into play?
I have to admit that it’s been quite a while since I’ve used Night Panel. I tend to use it mostly for longer trips only, and I don’t do many long trips at night any more (I’m usually too busy writing up this stuff). But when I have used it I’ve never been in a situation when I wasn’t aware of the conditions I was driving in (i.e. fuel, etc).
I could understand if you were at the 500km mark of a long trip in the middle of nowhere, but in that situation I’d be keeping an eye on my fuel all the time.
Is it just me, or did these two play up the fear factor for dramatic effect?